Friday, February 12, 2016

FCE Review: World-Class Grooming by Cat Hill & Emma Ford

An Amazon gift card was among my family's generous Christmas gifts this year, and I had no trouble putting it to use. First item in the cart was Cat Hill and Emma Ford's book, World-Class Grooming for Horses, the English rider's complete guide to daily care and competition.

I had heard about the book through various internet sources (including Eventing Nation and Horse Nation) and was immediately interested. And not only because one of the authors and I share a name. lol

photography by Jessica Dailey
every image in this blog post is a copy of her work
My interest was further piqued when I read about 'clinics' the authors offered for grooms and riders and horse people of all walks to attend and learn first hand the tricks and tips of grooming to perfection. (Something I would *love* to do at one point or another!)

photography by Jessica Dailey 
book is spiral bound with a hard cover that should stand up to some abuse
I really like this book, guys. It's not gonna shatter your preconceptions about how the world works, or shake you to your very core regarding what it means to brush a horse. But I'd wager that most readers will walk away having learned an insight (or two, or twenty).

And my favorite thing about this book? Well, it really shouldn't surprise anybody. I love - LOVE - all the pictures. And there are many of them. No detail is too inconsequential a subject. Which pleases me excessively bc I not only enjoy looking at pictures of horses, I'm also a very visual learner. You can describe to me how the half pad should fit the saddle pad, sure, but show me the following picture and I'll immediately feel sheepish about my own poorly fitting getup.... haha?

photography by Jessica Dailey 
Along with the many, many photographs, the authors pair their clear instructions with descriptions of common mistakes (also complete with photographs). The book is organized into various parts and chapters (including general barn care, horse maintenance, tack how-to's, grooming, and competition prep) and everything follows the same straight-forward format.

photography by Jessica Dailey 
Interspersed through the various sets of directions are sidebars like the "pro tip" pictured above. These are useful because it's here that the authors offer more context on when different approaches might be appropriate for different situations. We all know how things aren't always black-and-white with horses - and the authors take time to share their experiences and anecdotes and make recommendations.

photography by Jessica Dailey 
Personally, I loved all the details about mane care, which they organized by discipline. Isabel's mane is.... not exactly my purview. Pretty sure her owner would be quite upset if I ever shortened it... So even tho I may dream of a shorter tidy mane that would look perfect with those adorable dutch dressage braids... well. It's just not in the cards.

photography by Jessica Dailey
Lucky me, tho - the authors also included a very nicely photographed section on running braids - from which I got a couple ideas for refining my techniques.

photography by Jessica Dailey 
They also wrote extensively about varying wrapping techniques and all different boots (for riding, turnout, shipping, stall rest, etc), definitely useful to have on hand as a reference. Plus the book provides guidance on how to adjust various pieces of tack and equipment - including a couple pieces I personally haven't used before.

photography by Jessica Dailey 
Another favorite aspect of the book are these 'barn gossip' pieces interspersed throughout, rich with name-dropping and funny (or 'oh shit') past experiences. Maybe you're not into that kinda thing.... but, well, I am. So I got a real kick out of reading them lol.

Essentially, this book is a great reference guide for any horse person. But particularly riders interested in turnout, especially for competitions. It's easy enough to read through cover-to-cover, tho I find myself more likely to use the nicely detailed Table of Contents to flip through to particular areas of interest.

I'm happy to have this book on my shelf for either occasional perusal or for specific look-ups. It would also make a lovely gift for an equestrian-minded friend.

59 comments:

  1. I love this book. We have a copy in the barn office.

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  2. I got your hint yesterday! I'll start grooming better!!
    Seriously though, it does look great. Likely exactly what I need to get my act together

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    1. ha i'm sure your horses are perfectly happy and healthy with their current program ;) it is fun to really dig into the nitty gritties of grooming tho

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  3. Bobby won this book at AEC and gave it to me, I really like it too! She does manes exactly the same way I do.

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  4. i briefly reviewed this book a month or two ago... it is so my jam. i cant wait for braiding season!!

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    1. yea everything i've seen about this book so far made me want it even more lol. kinda wish i had a horse to actually practice braiding with tho... ah well, isabel is pretty cool i guess ;)

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  5. Oooo that book looks right up my alley, I love having all the pictures of good and bad examples!

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  6. Oooo that book looks right up my alley, I love having all the pictures of good and bad examples!

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    1. the pictures are *so* helpful for me - and it's not like origami directions or an ikea manual where how they get from one step to the next is completely impossible. it's all super clear

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  7. My friend has this book and I was able to take a look and it's very nice!

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  8. I may have to add this one to my library!

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    1. definitely :) makes a great addition to any wishlists you might have

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  9. OMG! I just ordered this book! One of my secret goals this year is to become REALLY good at grooming/braiding/etc! I love all the photos. The clinic series sounds really cool too! I wish there were more of them!

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    1. oooooh i hope you love it too! i feel pretty good about my basic grooming skills already, but the more refined top-level stuff, not so much. this book is helping! wouldn't it be sweet if a clinic came to our area?!?

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    2. I would love it (and totally go) -- in the mean time I want to get Riley looking super fancy! I'm fairly good at braiding but I want to be REALLY good!

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    3. ooooh a fancy Riley is BEST Riley :D

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  10. I want it.

    I say that about all the grooming books, haha.

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    1. i mean, i'm right there with ya lol

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  11. I got Grooming to Win many years ago (umm 15+, like when I started 4H) and got a lot of my tips through there. I'd been debating ordering this book, thanks for the review! On the long mane thing- I had a QH mare whose owner loved Arabs and Arab looks (aka long mane). I used every technique in the book to braid her, haha. I ended up doing button braids most often, and the running braid when I just didn't feel like braiding.

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    1. i've tried to do button braids with isabel before too - but it's never quite worked the way i wanted. her mane is thin, which seems like it would help, but it varies extremely in length from one end to the other (and in the middle). perhaps if i already had the techniques for normal button braids, i'd be able to do it? idk... maybe it's worth another shot? lol

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    2. My mare had a thin mane too. I always took a small section (like two fingers), band the top, braid it down until you can't possibly braid anymore (if one strand runs out of hair, make a new third strand from a thicker one), band it. Fold the braid up under, but leave a small amount of empty space near the crest. Band. Fold again, band. Fold again, this time, use the first band as an anchor for your last band and squeeze the braid into a U with the open part next to the crest (the open space you left at the beginning fills in at this time). Then hair spray the heck out of it! I got pretty quick and good at it. I'd repair one or two braids in the morning but it would hold all day. I haven't tried to braid a long mane in a long time, but I think I could tweak it to sew it in now!

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    3. innnnnnneresting! thanks for the blow-by-blow, i think i can visualize what you mean (and it's definitely *not* how i've done it in my few failed attempts). must give this a try!!! or, will give it a try when the temps are above freezing at some point in the maybe distant future?!? lol

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  12. Ok, now I know what I need to get with my bonus this year!

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  13. I probably need this book, because I feel like I've done a good grooming job if I've knocked off the visible dirt. Pathetic.

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    1. lolz idk... an interesting aspect of this book is that it's really more about holistic care - not just 'knock visible dirt off thusly.'

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  14. Nice! I love those kind of books when they have lots of pictures.

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    1. meeee too!! esp step-by-step pics, since i'm always trying to figure out why my attempts never match up to the pretty finished products lol

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  15. That looks like a great book1 I'd love to read more about braiding; I am kind of scared to try big fat dressage braids!

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    1. only way to figure it out is to give it a whirl! ;)

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  16. I LOVE books with pictures. One can never have to many horse books!

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  17. It does not surprise me that you noted that unkept/poorly groomed horses were one of your pet peeves ;)
    Book looks awesome!

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    1. haha i mean.... at least i'm consistent?

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  18. I feel you on an owner who loves the long mane look. I exercise a paint with a ridiculous long, thick mane that I hate. I am all about neat and tidy! Don't they know it will grow back? And maybe you will like the short look! Haha. I definitely want this book! Great review!

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    1. the long mane struggle is REAL ugh lol

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  19. I'm so glad you did a review on this book! I've been wanting to buy it for a while now. Do they have a section on roaching manes?

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    1. hm no i just took another look and there doesn't appear to be anything on roaching the mane, sorry!

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  20. I've seen this book around and thought it looked interesting, but I've talked myself out of buying it because I hate grooming. My horses are lucky if I brush anything other than the hair off the saddle/girth area before riding. I do spruce up a bit for shows, but Nilla's tail can't be braided and her mane is a mohawk. I do love braiding Dijon's long flowing mane and tail though. His tail has actually started dragging on the ground and his leaser asked if she should cut it and I was like NO!

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    1. awww haha, i *love* grooming and get a lot of satisfaction from it, whereas brushing manes/tails isn't my most favorite...

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  21. Definitely sounds like a good one to have on hand! I wrap/bandage legs so infrequently that I always second guess myself on how to do it every time - this would be good to use as a refresher!

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    1. yea i feel pretty much the same haha

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  22. Well, now I definitely need this book. I know a lot from my working student days, but there are certainly several skills I never learned, or didn't have the need to practice.

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    1. it's definitely great for reference - plus they dig into their own particular methods for doing things, which might be different than what others have seen before

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  23. Isabel is gonna rock the running braid :D

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    1. i love the way it looks on her, but my technique isn't always so great and it frequently starts falling out (or the horse shakes it out) pretty quickly

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  24. Very cool! I love me some pictures :)

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    1. pictures are pretty much my favorite. always and forever lol

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